DENVER — Wells Fargo has launched its Innovation Incubator (IN2) program, a $10 million grant for clean technology startups funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to foster the development of early stage clean technologies for commercial buildings. The program is said to be the first of its kind in the banking industry.

Announced at the NREL Industry Growth Forum in Denver, clean technology startups will be identified and recommended by Wells Fargo’s network of technical, financial, and industry advisors at laboratories and research facilities across the country. The first of three rounds of selected companies will be announced in early 2015, and will receive up to $250,000 for business development needs, research, and testing support at NREL’s world-class facility in Golden, Colorado, along with coaching and mentorship from Wells Fargo. An independent advisory board of nearly a dozen industry leaders representing the commercial building sector, academia, community organizations, successful entrepreneurs, and technical experts will select the final companies to be included in the IN2 program.

The IN2 program will source candidates from universities and regional accelerators providing a pipeline of early stage technology companies to apply. Selected technology companies will reach specific technology milestones in the NREL lab with an opportunity to deploy and field test in Wells Fargo buildings.

“The IN2 platform is designed to fill a gap that exists from early stage concept to production for emerging clean technologies,” said Ashley Grosh, vice president, Wells Fargo Environmental Affairs. “The program leverages Wells Fargo’s geographic diversity and expertise in clean energy in commercial buildings, to provide early stage entrepreneurs an alternative pathway towards commercialization. Through our collaboration with NREL, we want to give opportunities to national labs, universities, and regional accelerator programs, and entrepreneurs with great ideas for lighting, sensors and controls, space heating and cooling, windows, energy modeling, plug loads, and building envelope.”

The first year of the IN2 program will focus on sustainable buildings technologies that will provide cost savings and reduce the overall negative impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment. Qualifying technologies may include the following: energy efficiency, net zero-energy, indoor environmental quality enhancement, water efficiency, lighting solutions, waste reduction, materials efficiency, operations and maintenance optimization, and data center facilities management. Over time, the program will expand its portfolio of selected companies and the scope of clean technology sectors.

“Due to pervasive market barriers, private sector financing is typically limited or unavailable to bring new energy innovations from early-stage laboratory research to proof-of-concept prototype and on to full commercial scale,” said Richard Adams, NREL’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center director. “This leads to market ‘gaps’ that prove too difficult for many early stage companies to overcome, which often ultimately results in promising technologies falling to the wayside. We are hoping to address these barriers to benefit small companies, our communities, and the economy.”

For more information on the IN2 program, click here.

Publication date: 11/10/2014

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